Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 6 - Kenny and the Duck (and a couple of other things)

Hey Everyone!

Welcome back for the Day 6 recap.  Had a little more low key day today as far as time goes, but still knocked out everything I wanted to.  Still adjusting to the time change, which is causing me to go to bed later and get up late as a consequence, but hoping to fix that tonight.  Started off the day heading to the National Army Museum right down from where I am staying.  It is the largest military museum in the world.  Looked around for a bit, and saw some cool armor and and guns and stuff, but moved on quickly.  Here are a couple of the highlights though:

Thought this was pretty cool.  I have no idea who is supposed to be manning the small suits there in the front, and honestly, I don't think I want to know.

Oh, our friends the French.  This is a cannon looking from the back end to the front.  You're eyes are not playing tricks on you.  Those are a set of  two people there on top.  As far as I'm concerned, nothing says war, death, and destruction like staring at two couples macking down right as you're lighting the fuse.

Can we all agree that perhaps the normal armor head piece would have been a better choice here?  This had to be a Christmas present from this guy's Mom or something. That's the only explanation.

After leaving the Museum, I went to Invalides, which is the golden dome I pointed out yesterday.  This was a church built during the reign of Louis XIV and it also houses Napolean's Sarcophagus.  It is a beautiful building.

Here is the view from the outside.

This is the altar piece.  It is not the original but was rebuilt.  It is modeled after St. Peter's.  I'll hopefully get the chance to compare it.

Here is a detailed shot of the altar.  Notice the twisting marble pillars.

Here is a shot of Napolean's Tomb.  It is below the altar we just looked at.  This thing is huge.  Something  like 4x3x2 meters or something close to that.

Those two museums were nice, but I was done with them in less than 2 hours.  I headed down the street at that point to go check out the Rodin Museum.  Auguste Rodin, a turn of the 20th century artist,  is arguably the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo.  His works are more raw in my opinion and while he has many pieces using marble as his canvas of choice (white stone), most of his more famous ones are cast in bronze (Bluish-Black).  His work is known for giving the appearance of movement and restlessness. I've always been a big fan and one of the art things I wanted to do on this trip was see which of the two artists, Michelangel or Rodin, I liked better. Here are some of Rodin's pieces.

Rodin's most famous work, Le Penseur (The Thinker)).  Also known as Le Gars sur la Toillette (The Guy on the Toilet).

This depicts a great moment in human history:  The First Fist Pound. As you can see, the technique has been improved over the last century.  The simultaneous "head pound" that was originally employed was also discontinued, for obvious reasons.

This is my favorite piece, and it is not even a Rodin, but his student/lover Camille Claudel.  This is called The Age of Maturity.  In real life Rodin would not leave his wife for Claudel.  I guess you can interpret how you want but the guy might be Rodin and the girl in the back might be Claudel.  Sad but very powerful I think.

Here's a shot of the museum from the garden in the back.  Many of his statues including his unfinished masterpiece, The Gates of Hell are out here.

After this I went home for a break.  I just realized I never showed you a picture of the street I'm on, Rue Cler.  Here is a good representation of what it looks like:

Seriously, this is what the whole street is about.  You could eat like a king and never walk more than 200 feet from my hotel.

After the break, it was time to go see the famous Arc de Triomph.  To get there I hopped the Metro and went to the Champs Elysees which is probably the most famous street in Paris.  Quite a change of pace from the Paris I've been experiencing.  Everything to this point has been so laid back, but down here, there's traffic jams and cars honking and a whole bunch of very in a hurry French folks trying to get home.  This is where a lot of shopping takes place as well.  I was reminded more of Times Square here than anything else.

The Champs Elysees.  You can see the base of the Arc in the middle right.  Here are your tree lined boulevards and impatient Frenchmen

Me at the Arc.  The Arc was built to honor the armies of France, specifically those of the Napoleonic Wars.  Every conquering army (even non French types like the Nazi's) usually makes it's way through the Arc.  For you biking enthusiasts, this is also where the Tour de France winds up.

The other main thing to get from this shot is that I have finally decided to put on a different shirt for the first time in a couple of days.  My Mom is so proud.


My first one of the trip.  I'm not making any bold proclamations here, but remember that Oktoberfest is on the horizon for Herr Homann and I've been itching to get in touch with my German roots.  I'm not promising it's going to happen, but lets just say there have been some requests.

This was from on top of the Arc.  Honestly, I could not have asked for a better night.  This one would be awesome on the wall.

Here is the topside view of the Champs Elysees looking East.

My best shot of the night.  Notice the colors of the sky match the flag and in the same order (OK I thought it was cool).

Classic Kenny moment to end the evening.  So I decided to grab some food around the Arc, and went to this cafe called George V.  I've been trying some different stuff, but hadn't really taken a serious plunge, so I chose tonight to do it.  I asked the waiter what he'd recommend and he pointed at the appetizer, foi gras.  For those of you who don't know (and I was one of these people. . .shocker I know), this is the product of a duck liver that has been specially fattened.  It's considered a delicacy.  I'd had liver before so I said bring it on.  I got this.

Panic time arises  here as I quickly realize the only thing on the plate I could confidently identify was the bread (I saw nothing I thought was a liver). That wasn't even my main problem.  I had no idea what to do.  Do you spread this stuff, eat it separately, lick it. . . no clue.  Nothing better than staring helplessly at my food for five minutes while every French speaking person in the immediate area watches intently to see not if I screw up, but if I do so enough that it warrants finger pointing and sad slow head shakes.

Anyway, I decided to do the spreading thing.  I'm going to tell you what I thought all the stuff was and then we'll see how I did.  Feel free to play along.

So the liquid  in the little cup on the right I thought was the foi gras, the big yellow blocks on either side of that I thought was cheese (I thought that was an awful lot of cheese), and the little lighter colored stuff in between the bread and cheese stuff I thought was some kind of a honey product.  So how did I do?

First the good: I finally snagged the waiter and told him I had no idea what to do or what I was eating and he said spreading was fine (Kenny 1, Looking like an idiot 0).  I exulted in my performance with a self high five at that point but things went downhill quickly from there.

Turns out what I thought was the foi gras was fig jam, the honey stuff was "meat jelly" (I really don't want to know), and the "cheese" was the foi gras.  So after pulling out to an early lead, the far superior opponent (Kenny's lack of refined living) pulls away in the second half and dominates to take the game.

All in all it was a good day (and the foi gras wasn't terrible).  Tomorrow's post will be a bit lighter, as I have nothing planned other than to just hang out in a park and enjoy the Parisian Day, but I'll definitely write something up.  Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  Holler.